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Pelagics

Boothbay Harbor “Mini-Pelagic” with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises

​Join us on three special cruises dedicated to off-shore birding: a collaboration with Cap'n Fish's Cruises offering half-day “mini-pelagics!” We'll seek out the rare and common seabirds that occur in our nearshore waters, but we will always have the hope for something unexpected. Derek will team up with the boat's expert naturalists to spot, identify, and point out pelagic seabirds. Chumming efforts will provide opportunities to attract the birds in for better photo ops and viewing. While we’ll stop to look at any whales and whatever other interesting sea life we encounter along the way, it is the feathered wildlife we’re searching for, and will be focused on.

For the boat’s COVID-19 safety protocols, please see: https://www.boothbayboattrips.com/covid-guidelines/

June 2024 TBA

9:00am

The early season "mini-pelagic" will have the opportunity to visit breeding seabirds at Eastern Egg Rock in addition to heading offshore to search for whales and more pelagic birds.

As we get underway, we’ll keep an eye out for lingering Great Cormorants in the inshore waters as we make our way to the famous seabird island that is Eastern Egg Rock. Here, the Puffin Project and seabird restoration was born, the results of which now include a thriving colony of Atlantic Puffins, Common Terns, Arctic Terns, Roseate Terns, and plenty of Black Guillemots. A few Razorbills are often seen, and as of 2020, a Common Murre or two are sometimes around. We’ll be sure to spend some time sorting through the terns, learning how to identify “Arties” among the thousands of Commons and learning how to pick out the endangered Roseate Tern, even from a distance.

 

After a little time here, we’ll take a turn for deeper waters where pelagic species will be sought. We’ll set up a chum slick at a favorable time and place, hoping to bring birds close to the boat for photographs. Early June is a very lightly birded time of year in these waters, and our partnership with Cap’n Fish’s is helping us learn what might be out here. Newly-arrived Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and tarrying Northern Fulmars seem to be the most likely, along with lots of Northern Gannets on most trips. Great Shearwaters and perhaps Sooty Shearwaters might just be showing up on their wintering grounds, while there is always the hope for Leach's Storm-Petrels and Manx Shearwaters, both of which will be returning to local breeding islands. Migrant Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers and Red-necked Phalaropes are also possible, but of course, we’ll be hoping for the unexpected.

We’ll be looking for whales, too, with Fin, Humpback, and especially Minke all possible. Expect Harbor Porpoise, and Gray and Harbor Seals as well.

We have run an early June trip with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises each of the past three years. Those trip reports can be found at these links: 2021 2022 2023

July 2024 TBA 

1:30pm  

Derek will be onboard for this special Whale Watch & Birding Buffs Combo Cruise. The itinerary will include a visit to Eastern Egg Rock as well as whale feeding grounds. Nesting colonies and pelagic sightings will be highlighted. Around EER at this time we can expect to find Atlantic Puffins, Common Terns, Arctic Terns, Roseate Terns, Laughing Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, Common Eider, Black Guillemots, with a chance of Razorbill and Common Murre. Off-shore sightings may include Northern Gannets, up to 4 species of Shearwaters (Great, Sooty, Cory's, and Manx), and Wilson's Storm Petrels. Sorry, no chumming this time.  

Click on the link for our previous July tour reports.

October 14, 2024  

9:00am 

 

This annual fall excursion gives a chance at some very sought after pelagic species, such as Great and South Polar Skua. More likely species include Northern Fulmar; Black-legged Kittiwake; Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger; shearwaters – Great, Sooty, Cory’s, and possibly even Manx; Leach’s Storm-Petrel; Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin; Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, and much more. With the later departure date this year, we hope for more jaegers and a better chance at Great Skua, along with the chance at more early-arriving alcids.

 

Each of the three October trips have been very different, with each year providing some unexpected highlights. In 2020 it was 3 amazing sightings of Leach’s Storm-Petrels. The epic 2021 tour produced a stunning breeding plumaged Pacific Loon and a South Polar Skua, while 2022 was highlighted by a Pomarine and at least one Parasitic Jaeger.  2023 was slow, but a Pomarine Jaeger and quite a few passerines rounded things out. Full trip reports and species lists can be found here: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

 

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We’ll leave the dock promptly at each trip's departure time for a 4-5 hour trip. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase, but you are welcome to pack your own food and water. Be prepared for light rain or showers, and bring plenty of layers for staying comfortable outside. Likewise, with any boat trip, weather cancellations for wind or waves (especially in fall) are always possible.

Registration is through Cap’n Fish, which can be made online at the 'Tickets" link above, or by calling 207-613-7339.

All other information can be found here, including directions, parking, and boat information: https://www.boothbayboattrips.com/faq/

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Seal Island Seabird Charter 

July 2025 TBA

1:00 - 6:00pm 

Cost: TBA

In 2022, the world famous Red-billed Tropicbird (aka “Troppy”) did not return to Seal Island after 17 years in a row. We’ve been running trips to search for this celebrity bird for nearly 15 years, and in doing so, we absolutely fell in love with visiting Seal Island. And our 2022 tour, with no expectation of seeing Troppy was still a resounding success.

 

So we’re going back in 2023!  We just have too much fun out here aboard The Otter, with our partners Isle au Haut Boat Services.  We’ll just have to settle for hundreds of Atlantic Puffins and countless Black Guillemots!  Razorbills and Common Murres (although murres sometimes play hard to get, we usually get them in the end!) are expected, and we’ll visit Maine’s last remaining colony of state-Endangered Great Cormorants. Thousands of Arctic and Common Terns will be wheeling around adding to the impressive show at this amazing seabird breeding island. For those who don’t like to visit cold climates, here’s your chance to see all of these species at one time!   

 

It’s likely we’ll already be seeing some southbound migrant shorebirds, and depending on conditions, we have a chance to see Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, Northern Gannets, Great and Sooty Shearwaters, and, since it’s the open water – who knows what else!?  Our 2018 trip produced a single Manx Shearwater, for example.

 

Time permitting, we’ll check Saddleback Ledge for immature Great Cormorants among the abundant Double-crested, a variety of gulls, and migrant shorebirds. Expect Harbor and perhaps Gray Seals, while Harbor Porpoise and whales – especially Minke – are possible, as are several very large fish like Mola Mola and Basking Shark.

To get an idea of what to expect, check out our 2023June 2021, July 20212020 trip report. Despite the absence of Troppy in 2022, we still had a fantastic trip that also included a hunting Peregrine Falcon, migrant Whimbrel, and a Parasitic Jaeger.

The trip includes the boat charter and guiding fees. Parking is available at the dock for $12 on a first come, first serve basis. Alternatively, there are a variety of parking options in the town of Stonington.

 

**Payment in full is required to guarantee your space. Passenger limit is 40 people. If the trip is cancelled due to sea conditions, there will be a full refund. If you sign up and need to cancel, and we are able to fill your space, you will also receive a full refund. Unfortunately, refunds will not be given if the trip runs but we fail to make it to Seal Island for any reason, and this is at the sole discretion of the captain.**

 

​Directions to the dock:

From Points South - take Interstate 295 and 95 to Augusta, pick up Rte. 3 to Belfast, and then take Rte. 1 & 3 east through Bucksport to Orland, follow Rte. 15 south to Stonington. Turn left onto Seabreeze Ave upon entering town.

From Points North - take 95 to Bangor then 395 to Brewer, then take Rte. 15 south to Stonington. Turn left onto Seabreeze Ave upon entering town.

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